Patient Rights & Responsibilities


Patient Rights

1. Access to SWMH may be gained by any individual needing treatment or service within the hospital's capability, mission and applicable laws and regulations. If a person presents to SWMH for treatment or service that we are unable to provide, the patient shall be fully informed of his or her needs and the alternatives for care. The patient shall be adequately stabilized and upon the patient’s consent shall be transferred according to applicable laws and regulations to an appropriate facility that has accepted the transfer.

2. Patients have the right to considerate and respectful care at all times and under all circumstances. The patient has the right to expect that the hospital make reasonable response to the request of a patient for treatment or adjustment that is available or medically indicated. The care of the patient includes consideration of the choice of herbal medications, as well as the consideration of personal values and beliefs, psychosocial, spiritual, and cultural variables that influence the perception of the illness as well as optimizing comfort and dignity.

3. All patients have a right to pain relief. This includes the patient’s right to appropriate assessment and management of pain. Assessments include the location, quality, and intensity of pain and use the patient’s self report as the primary indicator of pain. Information about pain and pain relief measures will be provided to patients. Patients, and families when appropriate, are informed regarding their roles in managing pain, as well as the potential limitations and side effects of pain treatments.

4. Patients have the right to participate in ethical questions that arise in the course of his or her care and expect that each health care professional will respect his/her decisions or the decisions of the designated representative when ethical questions arise during the patient's care. This includes conflict resolution, withholding resuscitative services, forgoing or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, and participation in investigational studies or clinical trials and care at the end of life. If a conflict arises in care decisions, the patient shall be advised that an Ethics Committee consultation may be requested.

5. Patients have the right to obtain from their physicians complete and current information (in a manner so that it is understandable) concerning their health status and diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Patients have the right to participate in decisions involving all aspects of their care, including care planning, treatment and an explanation of procedures during a clinical trial. Patients have the right to receive from their physicians all of the information necessary in order to make an informed decision, including an informed refusal of surgery, treatment, or procedure, and to give informed consent prior to the start of any surgery, procedure or treatment. Explanations about proposed treatments and procedures will include potential benefits and drawbacks; potential problems related to recuperation; the likelihood of success; possible results of non-treatment; and any significant alternatives. Patients have the right to know the immediate and long-term financial implications of treatment choices, insofar as they are known.

6. Patients and, when appropriate, their families have the right to be informed about the outcomes of care, including unanticipated outcomes.

7. Patients asked to participate in a research project are given a description of the expected benefits, the potential discomforts, risks and possible recuperative problems. The patients are given a description of alternative services that might also prove advantageous to them and a full explanation of the procedures to be followed, especially those that are experimental in nature. All patients are told that they may refuse to participate, and that their refusal will not compromise their access to services. All patient rights are protected and respected during research, investigation, and clinical trials.

8. Patients have the right to formulate advanced directives and designate an alternate decision maker in the event that he/she becomes unable to make his/her own decisions or is unable to understand a proposed treatment. The hospital will honor the directives within the limit of the law and our mission, philosophy and capabilities. The lack of advance directives does not hamper access to care. The hospital provides assistance to patients who do not have an advance directive but wish to formulate one.

9. Patients have the right to expect a family member or representative of his/her choice and his/her own physician notified promptly of his/her admission to the hospital. Patients have the right to include their family and have them participate in their care decisions.

10. Patients have the right to refuse a recommended treatment or plan of care to the extent permitted by law and hospital policy and to be informed of the medical consequences of their actions. In case of such refusal, the patient is entitled to other appropriate care and services that the hospital provides or to transfer to another hospital. The hospital should notify patients of any policy that might affect patient choice within the institution.

11. Patients have the right to every consideration of their privacy and confidentiality considering their medical care program, which also includes the right to a secure environment. Patients may:

  1. Refuse to talk to or see anyone not officially connected with the hospital, including visitors.

  2. Wear suitable personal clothing and religious or other symbolic items, as long as they do not interfere with diagnostic procedures or treatment.

  3. Be interviewed and examined in surroundings designed to assure privacy.

  4. Expect that any discussion or consultation involving care will be conducted discreetly.

  5. Expect all communications and other records pertaining to their care, including the source of payment for treatment, to be treated as confidential in accordance with applicable law.

  6. Request a transfer to another room if another patient or visitor in that room is unreasonably disturbing to the patient.
  7. Be advised upon request of the identity and professional status of individuals providing service to the patient and know, by name, which physician is primarily responsible for that individual's care.

  8. Access and review information contained in the patient’s medical record, pertaining to his/her medical care and to have the information explained or interpreted as necessary, except when restricted by law.

12. Patients have the right to expect continuity of care, including arrangements for managing the physical, educational, and social development of child and adolescent patients. Patients have the right to be informed by physicians and other caregivers of available and realistic patient care options when hospital care is no longer appropriate.

13. Patients have the right to know, in advance, times and locations of diagnostic tests and treatments during their hospitalization.

14. Patients have the right to expect that the hospital will provide a mechanism whereby they are informed by their physician, or a delegate of the physician, of the patient's continuing health care requirements following discharge. Patients have the right to make informed decisions about planning for care after discharge.

15. Patients have the right to be reasonably informed concerning any transfer to another health care establishment. Such transfer shall occur only on order of the physician. The receiving establishment shall be properly notified prior to the transfer.

16. Patients have the right to examine and receive an explanation of their bill for services given in the hospital regardless of source of payment.

17. Patients have the right to know how to address a conflict or complaint via the hospital advocacy program; to be included in the resolution of those complaints, and to be involved in resolving dilemmas about care decisions.

18. Patients have the right to know what hospital rules and regulations apply to their conduct as patients.

19. Patients have the right to access protective services with the assistance of the clinical and case management staff.

20. Patients have the right to involve people other than (or in addition to) themselves in decisions about the patient’s care. When the patient cannot make decisions regarding his or her care, a surrogate decision maker is identified. In the case of an unemancipated minor, the family or guardian is legally responsible for approving the care prescribed. The patient has the right to exclude any or all family members from participating in his or her care decisions.

21. Patients have the right to expect pastoral care and other spiritual services.

22. Patients addressing issues related to care at the end of life will be handled with the patient’s comfort and dignity foremost. The hospital shall provide for appropriate treatment for any primary and secondary symptoms, according to the wishes of the patient or the surrogate decision maker; managing pain aggressively and effectively; sensitively addressing issues such as autopsy and organ donation; respecting the patient’s values, religion, and philosophy; involving the patient and, where appropriate, the family in every aspect of care; and responding to the psychological, social, emotional, spiritual, and cultural concerns of the patient and family.

23. Patients have the right to expect effective communication regardless of their physical or mental limitations. Assistance devices are available for hearing and speech impaired patients. Generally, patients have the right to expect unrestricted access to communication. Sometimes, however, it may be necessary to restrict visitors, mail, telephone calls, or other forms of communication as a component of a patient’s care (for example, to prevent injury or deterioration in the patient, damage to the environment or infringement on the rights of others). These restrictions will be evaluated for their therapeutic effectiveness. The patient is included in any such decision. Communication restrictions are explained in a language the patient understands.

24. The patient has the right to be free from both physical restraints and drugs that are used as a restraint that are not medically necessary or are used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience, or retaliation by staff.

25. Patients have the right to choose their primary physician, and the right to make a change in this choice. Patients have the right to be informed of the name of the physician or practitioner who has primary responsibility for the patient’s care, and the identity and professional status of individuals responsible for authorizing and performing procedures and treatments. Patients have the right to obtain a second opinion, and to be informed of any business relationships between individuals treating the patient. Patients have the right to be informed of professional relationships with another health care provider, service, or institution that may be a conflict of interest. Patients also have the right to be aware of educational relationships with institutions that may involve the patient’s care.

26. Patients have the right to receive notice of non-coverage beneficiary discharge rights, and the right to be aware that they can contact the appropriate Quality Improvement Organization (QIO, a private, third-party contractor of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS) to appeal premature discharge, seek review of quality of care issues, and seek review of coverage decisions.

Patient Responsibilities

1. A patient has the responsibility to provide to the best of their knowledge accurate and complete information about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications and other matters relative to their health and the healing process. Patients have the responsibility to tell their doctors and healthcare providers about all herbal medications and vitamins they are taking, in order that potentially harmful interactions with other treatments can be avoided. Patients must report perceived risks in their care and unexpected changes in their condition. They can help the hospital understand their environment by providing feedback about service needs and expectations.

2. Patients have the responsibility to ask for help when their needs are not being met or when they encounter a problem during their hospitalization.

3. Patients are responsible for asking questions if directions and procedures are not clearly understood. Patients must let it be known whether or not they understand the possible complications of the proposed procedure or treatment. Patients and their families are encouraged to ask questions and call “time-outs” when they don’t have enough information to make decisions about treatment options or are uncomfortable about their care or planned treatments.

4. Patients should ask their doctor or nurse what to expect regarding pain and pain management. Patients are expected to ask for pain relief when pain first begins, help their care providers measure their pain, work with care providers to develop a pain management plan, and tell the care provider if their pain is not relieved.

5. Patients are responsible for providing any and all advance instruction, such as living wills, health care powers of attorney, or organ donation instruction at the time of admission. Patients should discuss advance directives with their physicians.

6. Patients are also responsible for participating to the best of their abilities in the treatment plan recommended by the physician primarily responsible for their care. Patients are responsible for informing their physicians and other caregivers if they anticipate problems in the following prescribed treatment. This may include following the instructions of the nurses and related health personnel as they carry out the coordinated plan of care and apply physician's orders, and as they enforce the applicable hospital rules and regulations. The patient is responsible for keeping appointments and, when unable to do so for any reason, for notifying the responsible physician or the hospital. Patients should honestly share their perceptions of their own strengths and weaknesses.

7. Patients are responsible for their actions and the outcomes if they refuse treatment or do not follow the physician's instructions.

8. Patients are responsible for being considerate of the rights of other patients and hospital personnel, and for assisting in the control of noise and the number of visitors. The patient is responsible for being respectful of the property of other persons and the hospital. Patients should also be aware of the hospital’s obligation to be reasonably efficient and equitable in providing care to other patients and the community.

9. Patients are responsible for following hospital, state and/or federal rules and regulations affecting patient care and conduct.

10. Patients are responsible for providing necessary information for insurance claims and assuring that the financial obligations of their health care are satisfied as promptly as possible.

11. Patients are responsible for recognizing the impact of their lifestyle on their personal health.